Acito’s first novel, How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater is an hilarious, honest in an “I don’t believe this” sorta way re-telling of a coming-of-age story. Of particular praise is Acito’s way of making a gay (technically bisexual) story-line important, without having it overshadow the true essence of the novel, which is that of self-realization, growth, separation, maturity/immaturity, and loss of innocence. That one of the main character’s challenges is being unable to cry as an actor says much about the connection between stage and real-life; stage emotions come from true emotions, and if we cannot be honest with ourselves and learn how to reflect, to be introspective, then how can we ever project truth in emotion (not just on stage, but as an interacting adult). Though this novel takes place in 1984 and, thus, does not mention newer technologies, such as cell phones, internet networking (Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, etc.) I found an interesting connection between the disconnect of youth/adults and stage/reality – a parallel to the disconnect occurring amongst the general population today. How can we relate to one another, understand one another, help and learn from one another, if we cannot express ourselves and communicate? The book was just as hilarious, fast-paced, and jovial as I imagined, but it was also much more (deceptively) deep and inspiring. The author’s note at the end, too, is touching. Four stars.
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